DeKalb taps into water trends

First of a series.

The Better Government Association recently published an article about Joliet’s ambitious and controversial mayor, who plans to buy Lake Michigan water from Chicago.

[Water scarcity] tensions have arrived in northeastern Illinois, which, despite its proximity to the world’s fourth-largest source of fresh water, faces a coming water crisis.

Among the first battlegrounds are Chicago’s southwest suburbs, which have been reliably served for 150 years by underground sandstone aquifers that soon won’t be able to keep up with forecasted demand.

The loss of the aquifers — which comes as water bills are already rising and climate change accelerates — will leave many Chicago suburbs with the added expense of finding alternative sources to survive.

BGA: “Pipeline to Chicago could make Joliet mayor the new suburban water czar”

Joliet has about a decade to solve the problem. The idea is to find alternatives to pumping its aquifer dry and to conserve what’s left in the aquifer for emergencies. Its mayor wants to fund the infrastructure for piping surface water by reselling the lake water to neighboring communities and by recruiting new customers in the form of large industrial users of water — a scheme that has landed the city in court, so who knows how this will turn out.

Continue reading DeKalb taps into water trends

A look back: DeKalb and its radium water

25 years ago, residents of DeKalb organized to pressure the city to reduce the amount of radium in our drinking water. The city, which already had obtained a variance that allowed it to exceed EPA limits for radium, required a second variance in 1996 to obtain permits to extend water mains for new construction. This presented an opportunity to argue for a higher standard for the long-term health of the community. Upon discovering the Illinois Pollution Control Board regulations allowed for citizens to request public hearings, that’s what they did. Here’s the letter to the editor that Linda Lahey wrote to alert her neighbors of the upcoming public hearing:

linda-lahey-letter-7-1-1996

And here is the city’s rebuttal, two days later:

nicklas-letter-7-3-96

This was city government attacking an individual who disagreed with its policy, and the newspaper of record approving the hostilities. The double betrayal must have been devastating at the time. But the residents persisted. They filed suit against the city in December 2016 and, just shy of a year later, they won.

Continue reading A look back: DeKalb and its radium water

Counties Generating Revenue from Housing Prisoners

Boone County Watchdog tipped me off about a new revenue source for the blog’s home county: transporting and housing federal prisoners. The full story comes from the Register Star:

BELVIDERE — A negotiating firm plans to generate tens of thousands of dollars in new revenue for the Boone County jail without changing day-to-day operations.

The Summerill Group, LLC will negotiate with the U.S. Marshals Service the amount that the Boone County Sheriff’s Office is paid for housing and transporting federal prisoners. Joseph Summerill, managing principal of the agency, said in a contract a preliminary analysis indicated that the county could increase its per diem from $65 per inmate per day to $79.12.

If the average daily federal prisoner count remains at 18, the new rate would generate an additional $92,000 in revenue annually, boosting the county’s total revenue from federal prisoner housing to $519,000.

Yes, and if that happens, Boone County will be able to hire a new public defender and buy a squad car or two. Continue reading Counties Generating Revenue from Housing Prisoners

November 25 Council Agenda

The city has put up another meeting agenda for tomorrow that’s a revision of the original, so all you early birds will have to read the new one. However, keep the old one handy because they didn’t include the rest of the packet with the revision.

Highlights:

Item 1: Another hit to the Public Safety Building Fund.

I. Summary:
With the Police Department having effected a move to the new Police Station on West Lincoln Highway, an unanticipated need has arisen for additional communications equipment to ensure officer and public safety within the Building.

II. Background:
The new police station was designed for a high degree of security, with extensive use of steel, concrete and concrete block. The qualities of those materials that make them strong and durable also make them resistant to radio wave transmission. In short, the design and construction of the building hampers the ability of police officers to utilize their two-way mobile radios when within the building, or to hear radio traffic and respond to public safety emergencies or request assistance when within the building.

The solution to this issue is to install a bi-directional antenna system within the building that will permit direct communications with officers. The cost of this system exceeds $20,000; however, it is an urgent public safety issue that requires an immediate response and the equipment required is from a sole-source provider that has been working on the balance of the radio communication system. For both of these reasons, staff requests that the Council waive competitive bidding and award a contract to Dixon Ottawa in an aggregate amount not to exceed $25,000.

How much did the first communications system cost? Can we get our money back? Could this problem have been anticipated? How many more errors will it take to annihilate the budget? Continue reading November 25 Council Agenda

Municipal Electrical Aggregation & You

light bulbAn organization I belong to has hundreds of members. During a recent general membership meeting, one of them stood up and pitched the idea that the group should be selling his brand of electricity to the rest of us as a fundraiser.

The board of directors asked him to confirm whether his is a multi-level marketing venture. The response: “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

Thus the retail electricity market in the era of “unbundling” the costs of energy supply from those of delivery suddenly appeared to take on a somewhat pyramidal shape. The meeting incident plus my own community’s pursuit of a municipal energy aggregation program prompted me to investigate these developments more closely. Continue reading Municipal Electrical Aggregation & You

Contributions to Local State Reps from Energy & Utility Companies

There’s been a lot of talk about how ComEd and Ameren are spreading a lot of cash among state legislative leaders in hopes of an override of the governor’s veto of the Smart Grid legislation. Here’s a look at 2011 contributions from energy and utility companies to our legislators, State Rep. Bob Pritchard and State Sen. Christine Johnson.

Citizens for Pritchard
Ameren, $600, 8/2
Illinois River Energy, LLC, $1000, 8/9
MidAmerica Energy Company, $600, 7/25
Nicor, $500, 8/9
Ameren, $500, 5/9
ComEd PAC, $250, 6/1
NextEra Energy Resources, $500, 1/14

Citizens for Johnson
Ameren Illinois, $750, 4/11
Ameren Illinois, $1000, 5/2
ComEd PAC, $500, 6/7

Sen. Johnson voted against the legislation and has said she’ll probably vote against the override, too. Rep. Pritchard supports the legislation.

The Holly House

Citybarbs is pleased to add to our blogroll another local voice, The Holly House, a blog devoted to “green living on a blue collar budget.”

The blog owner, a 4th Warder like me, has begun developing a proposal for amending DeKalb’s municipal code to allow residents to raise a few hens for eggs, as well chronicling her efforts to gain support for the proposal both inside and outside city government. It should be interesting to keep track of her experiences and progress.

The City of Batavia put its Community Development Committee onto the issue around this time last year. Batavia ultimately approved a backyard chicken ordinance in May, joining Naperville and St. Charles in allowing chickens on certain residential properties.